DOI: 10.1177/0261927x231185520 ISSN: 0261-927X

Resistance in Business-to-Business “Cold” Sales Calls

Bogdana Humă, Elizabeth Stokoe
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Anthropology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Social Psychology

In “cold” sales calls, the salesperson's job is to turn call-takers, or “prospects,” into clients while, very often, the latter resist them. In contrast to laboratory-based research, “cold” calls provide a natural environment where the stakes are real and resistance is manifest. We collected and transcribed 159 “cold” calls the goal of which was for salespeople to secure an appointment to meet prospects. Using discursive psychology and conversation analysis, we identified two practices—“blocks” and “stalls”—through which prospects resisted salespeople's attempts to schedule a sales appointment while also moving to terminate the interaction or delay the scheduling of an eventual appointment. Our findings show that, when approached as an interactive and situated discursive accomplishment, rather than a cognitive process, the practices involved in resisting can be better identified, described, and shared in ways that transform our understanding of resistance as a social psychological phenomenon.

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